Malacañang on Monday reiterated that the Duterte administration will never negotiate with the extremist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
“We are not negotiating [with the Abu Sayyaf],” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella told reporters in a news conference.
Abella issued the statement after an alleged member of the Abu Sayyaf Group reached out to the government to talk about the last of four captives taken from Samal Island last year.
When asked however if the Duterte administration is open to holding talks with the terrorist group, he said, “It’s part of a process.”
Over the weekend, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said he is willing to negotiate with the Abu Sayyaf about Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad.
In a statement, Dureza confirmed that he got word from someone in Zamboanga City that an Abu Rami, one of those holding Sakkingstad and other captives, wanted to talk to him.
Previous reports identified Abu Rami as the spokesman for the Abu Sayyaf.
“I told the person that I was ready and willing to talk with anyone for the release of the hostages and save lives provided that it would not be about ransom. I gave a secure phone number for him to contact me. I am still waiting,” Dureza said.
Sekkingstad was among four persons abducted by the Abu Sayyaf from a Samal Island resort in September 2015.
The Abu Sayyaf recently beheaded Canadian captives Robert Hall and John Ridsel after its ransom demand was ignored.
Last month, the rebels released Hall’s partner, Marites Flor, after negotiations with Sulu Vice Gov. Abdusakur Tan.